Wednesday, October 26, 2016

TEEN TITANS #1 by Benjamin Percy & Jonboy Meyers - Book Review

From the publisher: “Damian Knows Best” part one! Now that Damian has “summoned” the Teen Titans, the tyrannical teen reveals his master plan! But a great evil from Damian’s past is lurking around the corner, ready to strike at the team’s newest leader and destroy the new Teen Titans before they even begin! 

Following the Rebirth issue of Teen Titans, Percy and Meyers's Teen Titans #1 kicks off the Damian Knows Best storyline. Damian Wayne is Robin. He is also Batman's son. He also recently turned 13, and had no friends with which to celebrate. These things combined to lead Damian to try to form a new version of the Teen Titans. Unfortunately, he went about it the wrong way; he kidnapped all the potential candidates (Starfire, Kid Flash, Beast Boy, and Raven). Suffice it to say, they weren't happy.

This first issue is heavy on Damian attempting to convince his fellow heroes that they should become the Teen Titans. It's not heavy on action, but Percy and Meyers do a wonderful job in capturing the voice and spirit of each of the characters, including Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne's butler and possibly Damian's only friend. Beast Boy's insecure arrogance, Raven's brooding, Starfire's anger, and Kid Flash's confusion are highlighted by Damian Wayne appealing to them. As the character has developed, he has gone from an insufferable brat to a young man struggling to accept who he is and what he has been through. Damian desperately wants to form a team of heroes/friends, but his social skills are severely lacking. To me, this is the chief part of why Teen Titans is worth reading. There is tremendous potential in the story of Damian Wayne growing and learning while surrounded by other heroes his age, working to become more like Batman and less like Ra's al Ghul (his grandfather and leader of the League of Assassins).

Teen Titans is definitely one of the Rebirth series to read. This first part in the Damian Knows Best arc gets the series off to a fine start. Benjamin Percy and Jonboy Meyers have done an excellent job. I recommend it to fans of teen team books and readers interested in seeing what happens with Damian Wayne.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

VIGILANTE: SOUTHLAND #1 by Gary Phillips - Book Review

From the publisher: Donny was feeling pretty settled in his cushy life. Even though his girlfriend was politically active, he never gave social justice or racial issues any time. So, when Dorrie discovers something she shouldn’t have and ends up dead, no one expects Donny to be the guy to carry on her work—but that’s exactly what he does, putting on a mask and taking to the streets. He soon finds himself tangled in family history, political conspiracy, and a plot that goes far deeper than he ever imagined.

Set in the heart of Los Angeles, this new VIGILANTE series raises an old question while making it relevant to our times: when you witness bad things being done, how far would you go to set them right? Written by Gary Phillips, noted writer of the Ivan Monk series of novels, and drawn by Elena Casagrande (Suicide Risk), this hard-hitting tale of revenge and redemption takes the Vigilante into a whole new danger zone. 

With Vigilante: Southland #1, Gary Phillips has created a new Vigilante, but one that echoes the previous incarnation. Donny enjoys his life: work as a custodian, hang out with his girlfriend Dorrie, play basketball, and get high. But when the political warrior Dorrie is involved in an accident, Donny is reluctantly forced to turn to his family for help. What follows are the beginnings of a man who feels like he has no choice but to put on a mask to obtain justice. At this point, there isn't a lot to differentiate him from other characters in similar situations, but its definitely too early to say for sure.

Vigilante: Southland is a mini-series, and as such, the first issue spends the majority of the time introducing the characters and setting up the situation. Because of this, its hard to judge this issue on its own. The reader is given just a small taste of Vigilante in his costume, with the promise of more to come. I have a feeling that Vigilante: Southland is going to end up being best read as a collected whole, rather than in six separate installments.

Gary Phillips has opened his new series with a promising chapter, and I would recommend it, but I think I will probably wait until all the issues are out before I jump back in. I guess its the difference between watching a tv series from week to week, or waiting to binge watch. In the case of Vigilante: Southland, I'll wait to have it all in one place.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

TRINITY #2 by Francis Manapul - Book Review

From the publisher: “BETTER TOGETHER” part two! Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman have uncovered a window into their very souls: and the power of temptation proves to be stronger than any villain they could battle! The bonds of friendship and trust between the most formidable heroes on the planet will be tested to their breaking point, with the lives of innocents hanging in the balance!

Trinity #2, by Francis Manapul, continues the Better Together storyline that began with issue #1. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are thrust into Clark's past. There they come into contact with a young Clark Kent and have some explaining to do to Jonathan Kent, Clark's father. When young Clark goes missing, its up to the three heroes to find him. Meanwhile, in the present, Jon Kent is coming to the realization that his life might change now that his dad has taken up the mantle of Superman again.

Trinity is starting out strong, and this second issue continues the fine storytelling. Manapul's storytelling and art are terrific, and this story has the potential to be very entertaining. My favorite thing about this book is seeing how Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman interact and develop a new relationship. In the wake of Rebirth and the blending of various alternate universes, these long-time "friends" have tare trying to build trust and friendship with people who look and act like those they've known, but are alternate versions of their teammates. This should fascinating to watch as Trinity continues.

I highly recommend Trinity #2 to fans of DC's big three heroes. Francis Manapul is doing a wonderful job.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

THE LOST BOYS #1 by Tim Seeley & Scott Godlewski - Book Review

From the publisher: The stakes are raised in this nostalgic and unstoppable sequel to the ’80s cult classic vampire film, The Lost Boys. Veteran horror writers Tim Seeley (GRAYSON, NIGHTWING, Hack/Slash), and Scott Godlewski (THE DARK & BLOODY, Copperhead) deliver a gruesome and stylish return to the bloody boardwalks and big hair of 1987!

Santa Carla, California is on edge. The eccentric coastal town and haven for the undead was finally returning to “normal” after its last supernatural scuffle left the local coven’s head vampire dead and gave newcomers Michael and Sam Emerson a housewarming both violent and bizarre. Now the brothers must once again team up with militant vampire hunters Edgar and Allan Frog when a new gang of ruthless, stunning, life-sucking nightcrawlers known as the Blood Belles emerges from the aftermath to collect Michael’s love interest and their lost sister, Star. 

Growing up in the 80's, I was a big fan of the movie The Lost Boys. It was just the right mix of creepy, scary, and funny. Now, Tim Seeley and Scott Godlewski have written a sequel, so I thought I'd check it out.

Lost Boys #1 takes place shortly after the film ended. In this first issue, we catch up with nearly all the major players from the movie: Edgar and Allan Frog, who are training to become full-fledged vampire hunters with Grandpa Emerson; Michael Emerson (former vampire) is working at a nursing home, where he is picked up after work by his girlfriend, Star (herself a former vampire); and Sam Emerson is still working at the comic shop and trying to meet girls. There is even a brief cameo from the child-vampire Laddie and the Emerson's dog Nanook. We even come into contact with a mysterious new woman who is very interested in Sam and his knowledge of vampires (or at least vampire comics).

Lost Boys #1 is very effective in laying the groundwork for the series. There are a couple of nice reveals, but mostly this issue is set-up for what is to come. The story moves along nicely and the art has a nice 80's feel to it. The whole book nicely captures the feel of the film.

I highly recommend Lost Boys #1 by Seely and Godlewski. It's great for fans of the movie, and would be a fun read for fans of horror with humor.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence By Sarah Young - Book Review

From the publisher: Sarah Young’s first 365-day devotional since Jesus Calling.

With scripture and new personal reflections, the #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah Young, brings Jesus’ message of joy—for today and every day. Experience true joy—now and always.

Life today is full of difficulties—loss, sadness, fear. In the midst of these challenges, joy often feels impossible or out of reach. But Jesus has more for His followers than a life of striving, pain, and discontent. He offers life abundant, life to the fullest, life brimming with joy! Jesus Always, the new 365-day devotional from bestselling author Sarah Young, was written as part of Sarah Young’s exploration of the promises of joy in scripture. Written as if Jesus Himself is speaking directly to the reader, Jesus Always invites you into a new way of living—a life of joy.

Reaching out with joy-filled reminders from the Word of God, these devotions will intimately and gently connect you with Jesus—the One who meets you where you are. Draw near to Him in Jesus Always.

Sarah Young's new devotional book Jesus Always continues in the vein of her previous books, Jesus Calling, Jesus Lives, and Jesus Today. It is a daily devotional, and uses Jesus's own words to bring the message.

Jesus Always is a small book, sort of gift-book sized. Each page contains one devotional, and they are labeled by month and date (even February 29) rather than just 366 various devotions. The subtitle of this book is Embracing Joy in His Presence, and I've noticed how each devotional spins out of that theme. I rather like this, in that having a devotional that reminds me of the joy of Jesus is nice. There is a great joy to be had in a relationship with God. Whether dealing with hardships, sickness, disappointment, or happiness, each devotion touches on how to embrace the joy of being in Jesus's presence.

Additionally, each devotion contains Jesus's words in italics, and while there aren't any scriptures in the text of the devotion, the words of Jesus and the ideas discussed are referenced by book, chapter, and verse at the bottom of each page.

My family has enjoyed Sarah Young's previous books, and Jesus Always is no different. It contains spiritually uplifting messages in a short, easy to read form. I highly recommend this devotional book.

I received a review copy of this book from the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

EVERAFTER: FROM THE PAGES OF FABLES #2 by Dave Justus & Matthew Sturges - Book Review

From the publisher: Connor Wolf’s initiation begins as the rest of the Shadow Players regroup and grapple with the fallout from Hansel’s gut-wrenching incident during their recent failed assignment. Tension builds as Feathertop ignores the team’s pleas to complete the mission, and Peter adjusts to Connor’s bravado when the two are sent on reconnaissance to thwart a group of mercenaries who have stolen invaluable—and powerful—Native American artifacts from exhibits across the country. If you’ve been missing the magic of FABLES, don’t miss this series!

With Everafter #2, Justus and Sturges continue the story begun in issue one. They continue to set the table, expanding the reader's view of the Fable world while continuing to develop the characters, in particular Peter Piper and Connor.  Connor, in particular, is becoming a favorite of mine. He brings a youthful perspective to the spying trade as a member of the Shadow Players. His reactions to becoming a spy are basically based on James Bond-type movies (I feel like I might act the same way). This creates a nice tension with Peter, the cool veteran who is grieving a lost teammate. Mayhem ensues as the Peter and Connor run into the group trying to steal Native American artifacts.

Meanwhile, the mysterious girl from the previous issue is demonstrating more of her powers, showing just how dangerous she is. I'm anxious to see how the various story threads are woven together and the Pandora Protocol arc continues to unfold.

I continue to recommend Everafter. Dave Justus and Matthew Sturges are doing a fine job. They are carrying on the Fables tradition, but putting their own spin on things. There is just enough of the familiar to appeal to long-time Fables fans, and enough of a new take to bring in new readers and/or not make Everafter feel like a rehash of earlier stories. Highly recommended.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Fall Seasons End

Lexi wrapped up the tennis season with a doubles match and a #3 singles match. She did not win either one, but did perform admirably, even taking her singles opponent to deuce 8 or 9 times during the final point. Overall, this (from my point of view) has been a very successful tennis season for Lexi. She definitely improved, both from a physical aspect and a mental aspect. Hopefully she plays next year, too. She also has two more football games to cheer at in the upcoming week, and that aspect of cheer is complete.

Griffin's team lost their playoff game 24-18, so the season has ended. However, the team played their most complete game of the year. They even stripped the ball with about 30 seconds remaining to give themselves one final chance to tie. They fought to the end, and made a bunch of good plays. Griffin was involved in multiple tackles, including a pretty good solo tackle on the edge, while playing cornerback. This was a very good season for Griffin. He really improved his aggressiveness, and overcame his hesitation when it came to hitting. He made multiple tackles, blocked well, and scored. I'm very proud of how he did. Next up is travel basketball.

Cami finished her fall softball season with a double-header, one loss and one tie (due to time constraints). She finished on a high note, walking once, striking out, and hitting an arching line drive into short right field for a stand up double. She also scored the tying run. She played 2nd, outfield, and pitched the last inning of the second game. She made a great play at pitcher; a ball was hit hard back at her, and she fielded it and made a great throw to 1st for the out. It was a good fall season, and I'm glad Cami had a chance to practice pitching more and to improve her hitting. She is growing in confidence.

Basketball is almost upon us all, but a brief respite awaits in the near future.